Cancer from A to Z

Types of cancer, how to prevent them, diagnosis and treatment.


Colon Cancer

Colon cancer occurs when the cells in the colon or rectum grow and multiply uncontrollably, damaging surrounding tissue and interfering with the normal function of the colon or rectum. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. Most colon cancers (about 70%) are found in the first six feet of the large intestine. The other 30% occur in the last 10 inches of the large intestine (rectum). Collectively they are referred to as colorectal cancers.

Colon Cancer is the tumor with highest incidence in Spain. Every year there are 25.000 new cases. Although colon cancer affects men and women equally, rectal cancer is more common in men. When colon and rectal cancers are found early, there is nearly a 90% chance for cure.

About 80% of colon cancer cases are sporadic, meaning that cause is nonspecific or undetermined. The other 20% of colon cancers are hereditary. People who have a first-degree family member with colon cancer are more likely to be affected themselves. About 5% of this group has a predisposition to hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome), a rare disease that generally strikes people aged 30 to 50.

There often are no symptoms of colon cancer in its early stages. Most colon cancers begin as a polyp, a small non-cancerous growth on the colon wall that can grow larger and become cancerous. As polyps grow, they can bleed or obstruct the intestine.


Symptoms include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool or toilet after a bowel movement
  • Prolonged diarrhea
  • A change in size or shape of your stool
  • Abdominal pain or a cramping pain in your lower stomach
  • A feeling of discomfort or urge to have a bowel movement when there is no need

Many colon symptoms are not cancer, but if you notice one or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks, see your doctor.

El cáncer de colon es el tumor más frecuente en Europa. Esta sesión informativa abordará la situación actual del screening (prevención) del cáncer de colon en España, el cáncer y el riesgo de exclusión social, la adaptación a la noticia del diagnóstico de cáncer de colon, qué es el cáncer de colon y cómo se trata, así como el papel de las asociaciones de pacientes.
Conoce más sobre el cáncer de colon, sobre como vivir con una ostomía y sobre el impacto emocional del diagnóstico de este cáncer. La Fundación MD Anderson España y Eurofins Megalab entregarán a todos los asistentes mayores de 50 años un kit para realizarse un cribado de cáncer de colon gratuito.
La Fundación MD Anderson España y Eurofins Megalab entregarán 120 kits de análisis de TSOH (test de sangre oculta en heces) a todas las personas mayores de 50 años que deseen realizarse esta prueba de manera gratuita.
Current practice and controversies in the era of personalized medicine.
Celebra con nosotros la III edición de las jornadas sobre prevención y diagnóstico precoz del cáncer en la población masculina.
Una jornada informativa sobre el cáncer de colon, uno de los tumores más prevalentes en ambos sexos. Te invitamos a conocer cómo la adopción de unos hábitos de vida saludables y la realización de las pruebas de cribado pueden reducir la incidencia de esta patología.
Una jornada informativa sobre el cáncer de colon, uno de los tumores más prevalentes en ambos sexos. Te invitamos a conocer cómo la adopción de unos hábitos de vida saludables y la realización de las pruebas de cribado pueden reducir la incidencia de esta patología.
Clinical trials
Ensayo de fase 1a/2a, abierto y multicéntrico, para investigar la seguridad, tolerabilidad y actividad antitumoral de dosis repetidas de Sym015, una mezcla de anticuerpos monoclonales dirigida frente al receptor MET, en pacientes con tumores malignos sólidos en fase avanzada
Ensayo Clínico multicéntrico, randomizado, para evaluar la eficacia y seguridad de la quimioterapia intraperitoneal hipertérmica (HIPEC) con Mitomicina C asociada a cirugía en el tratamiento del carcinoma colorrectal localmente avanzado.
Estudio fase IIIB, prospectivo, randomizado, abierto que evalúa la eficacia y seguridad de Heparina/Edoxaban versus Dalteparina en tromboembolismo venoso asociado con cáncer.
Estudio fase II, randomizado, ciego, multicéntrico que compara Veliparib más FOLFIRI+/- Bevacizumab versus Placebo más FOLFIRI +/- Bevacizumab en pacientes con cáncer colorectal no tratados previamente.
Ensayo de elección de terapias personalizadas en pacientes con carcinoma de colón metastásico de acuerdo al perfil de expresión genómica en muestras tumorales.
Tumores sólidos. Antiemesis Estudio fase III, multicéntrico, aleatorizado, doble ciego, con control activo para evaluar la seguridad y eficacia de Rolapitant en la prevención de náuseas y vómitos por la quimioterapia (NVIQ) en pacientes que reciben quimioterapia altamente emética (QAE). A phase III, multicenter, randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study of the safety and efficacy of Rolapitant for the treatment of Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in subjects receiving highly Emetogenic Chemotherapy (HEC)
Ensayo clínico en fase I de determinación de dosis del antiangiogénico multidiana Dovitinib (TKI258) más paclitaxel en pacientes con tumores sólidos.
Ensayo abierto, aleatorizado, controlado, multicéntrico en fase I/II para investigar 2 dosis de EMD 525797 en combinación con cetuximab e irinotecan frente a cetuximab e irinotecan solos, como tratamiento se segunda línea para sujetos con cáncer colorrectal tipo k-ras salvaje. Los pacientes con cáncer tipo k-ras salvaje serán elegibles para tratamiento si son resistentes o progresan tras quimioterapia en primera línea con un régimen de tratamiento que contenga oxaliplatino.

Many factors may influence the development of colon cancer, including:

  • Age: Colon cancer is most common in people over 50.
  • Family history: Your risk is higher with a family history (especially parent, sibling) of colon cancer or adenomatous polyps.
  • Personal history: Your risk is higher with a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or colitis), colon canceror adenomatous polyps.
  • Weight: Lack of physical activity and obesity are risk factors.
  • Diet: A high-fat diet, particularly animal fats, may increase your risk. Diets high in fruits and vegetables are thought to decrease your risk.
  • Cigarette smoking and alcohol: Your risk may be higher if you smoke or drink alcohol.

Reducing Your Risk
You can take action to reduce your risk of developing colon cancer by:

  • Eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • Limiting your fat intake to no more than 30% of your total daily calories
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining your ideal weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol consumption

Screening Guidelines
Cancer screenings are medical tests that are performed when a person has no symptoms. Starting at age 50, men and women should follow one of the five examination schedules below. All positive tests (FOBT, FIT, flexible sigmoidoscopy, barium enema) should be followed up with a colonoscopy.

Colonoscopy: Every 10 years (preferred by MD Anderson).
Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT): Every year. Both tests are available in take-home versions.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy: Every five years.
Annual FOBT or FIT and flexible sigmoidoscopy: Every five years. Having both tests is recommended over either test alone.
Double-contrast barium enema: Every five years.
People at moderate or high risk for colon cancer (e.g., strong family history) should talk with their doctor about the need for a different testing schedule.

These screening guidelines are provided as a guide. If results of these exams suggest cancer, more extensive diagnostic tests of the colon or rectum should be conducted. More frequent exams are needed if polyps (precancerous lesions) are found. In individuals at increased risk with a family history of colon cancer or polyps or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, screening may need to begin earlier.

There are many methods for diagnosing colon cancer. Some of these procedures are also used as screening devices to detect colon cancers in the early stages, when treatment is more successful.

Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT): A stool sample is examined for traces of blood not visible to the naked eye. If you do see blood in your stool, contact your doctor immediately.

Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT): FIT is a take-home test that detects blood proteins in stool. A small, long-handled brush is used to collect a stool sample, which is placed on a test card and sent to a lab for examination.

Sigmoidoscopy: A tiny camera with flexible plastic tubing is inserted into the rectum, providing a view of the rectum and lower colon. This procedure can also be used to remove suspicious tissue for examination.

Colonoscopy: A colonoscope is a longer version of a sigmoidoscope, and can examine the entire colon. Patients must be sedated for a colonoscopy.

Virtual colonoscopy: Instead of a scope, physicians use imaging technology to view the colon. Air is pumped into the colon to expand it for better imaging. Virtual colonoscopy can be performed with computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Double Contrast Barium Enema (DCBE): Barium is a chemical that allows the bowel lining to show up on X-ray. A barium solution is administered by enema; then the patient undergoes a series of X-rays.

Digital Rectal Exam: The doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to feel for polyps or other irregularities.

Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA): A blood test that determines the presence of CEA, a substance, or tumor marker, produced by some cancerous tumors. This test can also be used to measure tumor growth or assess if cancer has recurred after treatment.

Stage 0: Abnormal cells are found in the innermost lining of the colon or rectum. These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. Stage 0 is also called carcinoma in situ.

Stage I: Cancer has formed and spread beyond the innermost tissue layer of the colon or rectum wall to the middle layers. Stage I colon cancer is sometimes called Dukes A colon cancer.

Stage II: Colon cancer is divided into stage IIA and stage IIB. Stage II colon cancer is sometimes called Dukes B colon cancer.

Stage IIA: Cancer has spread beyond the middle tissue layers of the colon or rectum wall or has spread to nearby tissues around the colon or rectum
Stage IIB: Cancer has spread beyond the colon or rectum wall into nearby organs and/or through the peritoneum
Stage III: Colon cancer is divided into stage IIIA, stage IIIB and stage IIIC. Stage III colon cancer is sometimes called Dukes C colon cancer.

Stage IIIA: Cancer has spread from the innermost tissue layer of the colon or rectum wall to the middle layers and has spread to as many as three lymph nodes
Stage IIIB: Cancer has spread to as many as three nearby lymph nodes and has spread:beyond the middle tissue layers of the colon or rectum wall
to nearby tissues around the colon or rectum
beyond the colon or rectum wall into nearby organs and/or through the peritoneum
Stage IIIC: Cancer has spread to four or more nearby lymph nodes and has spread:
to or beyond the middle tissue layers of the colon or rectum wall
to nearby tissues around the colon or rectum
to nearby organs and/or through the peritoneum.
Stage IV: Cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes and has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs. Stage IV colon cancer is sometimes called Dukes D colon cancer.

Surgery is the most common treatment for colon and rectal cancers. Depending on the stage and location of the tumor, different surgical methods are used.

Local excision: If tumors are small enough, they may be removed with minimally invasive surgery. Tiny incisions are made in the abdomen. A miniature camera and surgical instruments are inserted. The surgeon uses computer imaging to locate and remove the tumor.

Polypectomy: Suspicious or cancerous polyps on the colon wall can easily be removed. A colonoscope is a long tube with a camera in the end. The colonoscope is inserted in the rectum and guided to the area requiring treatment, and a tiny, scissor-like instrument removes the polyp.

Colectomy: Surgeons remove the cancerous portion of the colon, along with a margin of healthy tissue on either side, and then join the colon back together. This procedure is also called a hemicolectomy or segmental resection.

Resection & colostomy: If the colon cannot be rejoined after removing the cancer, surgeons will perform a colostomy. A stoma (hole) is cut in the abdominal wall and attached to a segment of colon. Bodily waste goes through the stoma into a plastic bag outside the body. Colostomies may be temporary, allowing the bowel to heal before resection. However, about 15% of colostomies are permanent.

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy may be used to destroy any colon or rectal cancer cells that remain after surgery. Radiation is used most often on rectal cancers, or those that cannot be treated with surgery. It can also be used to relieve cancer symptoms.

The following technological means and radiation therapy are used with this disease:

  • Virtual CT simulation
  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT)
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT)


Chemotherapy can be used to shrink rectal tumors before surgery, or to lengthen survival time after surgery. Chemotherapy is generally not effective for advanced or recurring colon cancers.

Targeted Therapy
Researchers are developing new drugs that are designed to seek out and destroy specific types of cancer cells without affecting healthy cells.